NIU joins Recyclemania

By Logan Love

Throw your papers and bottles in campus recycle bins–the 12th annual Recyclemania collegiate competition is under way.

NIU is in the 44th position after the third week of the competition with a recycling rate of 45.3 percent, according to The rate is calculated by dividing the weight of recyclables by the total weight of the garbage on campus.

The website tracks the recycling rates weekly. NIU is the highest ranked member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) as of Wednesday.

NIU finished 159 out of 266 with a recycling rate of 25.3 percent last year.

“On March 22, which is World Water Day, we are going try to collect as many water bottles as we can on campus,” said Sarah Wawerski, undergraduate recycling coordinator and senior environmental studies major. ”That’s kind of a dual project with the Green Paws because we’re going to recycle those water bottles and raise awareness for reusable water bottles.”

The competition started between Ohio and Miami University in 2001. According to, more than 600 schools were competing after 10 years.

“I think here in DeKalb we notice the effects of overconsumption and waste,” said Renee Kopulos, treasurer of the committee for the preservation of wildlife and graduate student. “We have a landfill that’s full. It stinks. It’s polluting, and they’re expanding it. Recycling is the smart thing to do if you care about the future of this planet and sustainability.”

Energy specialist Mary Alice Drain worked in recycling collection at NIU before it was taken over by Building Services.

“It’s because of Sarah [Wawerski] that it’s changed, absolutely,” Drain said. “Sarah is the driver and is enthusiastic and goes out and gets it done. That’s huge and it helps get people to notice and get involved.”

“I think it’s just knowing that what I do is going to have an impact in the long run,” Wawerski said. “I’m making little steps now, but each month we see improvement in different sectors of our program, so it’s just great. Last year [the recycling rate] was at 25 percent and this year we’re at 45 percent without really trying. It’s just knowing what I’m doing is making a difference, even if it’s a little.”

Wawerski said recycling in the New Hall has increased.